Some of the questions that most webmasters face are:
- How to decide on a web host?
- Which is the best web hosting solution for my site?
- What kind of hosting service should I go with (Shared or Dedicated) ?
- What will be my storage requirement?
- How much bandwidth do I need?
This article will attempt to solve all of the questions mentioned above and much more
Web Hosting Basics
We will begin this article by understanding “What is web hosting?”
Web hosting is an activity or service that allows individual or organisations to make their website accessible via the World Wide Web.
Web hosts are powerful computers with huge storage space, high computing power and connected to a fast network. When somebody types your web address in the browser, the browser send request to the hosting company that has your site hosted. The hosting company then processes the request and send your site information to the user that requested it.
Great !!! Now that you have a fair bit of idea about what web hosting is, lets get to business and find out “How to choose the best web hosting solution in 5 minutes?”
Finalize Your Hosting Requirements
Every site will have different hosting needs. A static html site will have different needs as compared to a shopping site with thousands of products that accepts credit card payments. To help yourself understand your requirements, find answer to the questions mentioned below
- What is the type of site you want?
- What platform will you use to build your site (WordPress / Joomla / PHP / Asp.Net)?
- Do you have any specific software requirements?
- What is the number of visitors expected in the first year
Ideally if you are not a big organisation, it is advisable to start small and then scale up as and when needed. A shared hosting solution should suffice most new webmasters
Web Hosting Selection Criteria
Now that we know what we need, let us look at the things that are desired in a good host.
#1 Uptime Guarantee
You do not want to miss out on an opportunity or a potential sale just because the host is down and your site is not accessible. You want a host that is available 24×7. Your host has to be powerful with reliable high speed internet connections.
99.9% and above uptime is acceptable while anything below 99% is not acceptable
Some of the resources that you can use to monitor server uptime are
#2 Upgrade options
Shared hosting should take care of most your requirements in case you are a new blogger or a new business that wants to get online. However if you expect the traffic to rise phenomenally in the near future, look for a hosting provider that has room to upgrade. This includes options like dedicated hosting, managed hosting etc. The upgrade options assure you more processing power, more memory and higher security when needed.
#3 Number of Domains
Domain names are dirt cheap now a days. You can easily own more than one. If you want help regarding choosing a domain name, read How to Choose a Domain Name . I own multiple domains myself.
Nowadays it is not uncommon for a webmaster to have multiple sites. If you are one of those webmasters, it would be beneficial for you to look for a host that allows addition of multiple domains.
Addon Domain is a separate website with a different domain that you can host on your hosting provider at no extra cost
#4 Signup and Renewal Fees
In the hosting industry it is norm to offer a slightly cheaper signup fee as compared to renewal fees. If you are willing to change hosts every year, you can avoid higher renewal fees. However this is impractical and certainly not advocated.
If you are getting a renewal fee within 3 dollars of the signup fee, it is a good deal.
#5 Trial Period and Refund Guarantee
Almost all hosting providers have a trial period where in you can try out their services and get a refund if you cancel within the trial period. The thing to consider before availing the trial offer is the refund policy of the hosting provider.
Is it a “No Questions asked” return policy?
Are there any cancellation charges involved?
I suggest you choose a hosting provider who has a no questions asked return policy and little to no cancellation charges.
Not everybody who has a site is a computer geek or tech savy. It is therefore very important that CPanel provided is easy to use. If the CPanel is not easy to use then you will be at the mercy of the support staff, which is not a scenario you want to be in. A nicely designed intuitive control panel will make your administration tasks much easier and allow you more time for your website.
#7 Storage and Bandwidth Limits
This should be a non-issue in current times as almost everybody offers unlimited storage and bandwidth. If some host is offering limited storage and bandwidth I suggest that you look for another one.
If you talk about storage there are so many alternative options available to users like Google Drive, Flickr, Youtube that you need not worry about storage and bandwidth.
Unlimited Storage and Bandwidth means that you will have more of this than you will need.
#8 E-commerce Integration
If you plan to have a site that conducts online business of some sort, collect credit card information or have a shopping cart then e-commerce integration features will come in handy.
You will need features like SSL support, dedicated IP’s, one click shopping cart software installation.
#9 Featured Applications
Your hosting provider has to have certain basic features like 1 click WordPress installation, FTP for easy file access, SSI for easy site maintenance, access to .htaccess for security purposes.
If you do not get these facilities it is time to look for another host.
#10 Account Terms and Conditions
To ensure that your account does not get suspended without notice by your host, it is important that you read the terms and conditions carefully. This will give you a fair idea about the transparency and accountability of your host
#11 Email Hosting
Almost every host out there offers something like firstname.lastname@example.org. However it is a good practice to get this confirmed
Even if the facility is not available, no big deal. There are options available on the web that allow you to have your personalized email. Zohomail, Migadu, Yandex and Gmail offer free email mapped to your domain.
#12 Subscription Duration
Hosting providers generally offer lower rates to customers who are willing to sign up for longer duration. I would strictly advise against this. Ideally you should not sign up for more than 3 years in advance. problem with signing for long duration is that many things could go wrong in the period and you do not want to get stuck.
If you must signup for long duration, look for money back guarantees.
#13 Backup Option
There are a zillion things that could go wrong with your site (Hacker attack, Server disk failure, Database deletion). In such cases your backup will be your life saver. The web host should provide you with facilities to backup and restore your application.
Ideally you should be able to create, schedule and restore backups yourself through an easy and intuitive UI. You should not be dependent on the hosting providers tech support team for a solution.
When selecting a hosting provider make sure he has all 3 forms of support (Live Chat,Telephone and Email). Remote support would be nice. You want to have a host that responds quickly when you call for help.
#15 User Reviews
It is always a good idea to search the internet and find out what users are saying about the hosting provider. There will always be one or two naysayers, but if the majority is not happy with the service then may be you are better off looking for another service provider.
I hope this article has helped you in choosing the best web hosting option for your blog/site. It is always better to go with the “Best web hosting” solution rather than going for “Cheapest web hosting”. Web hosting is the back bone of your site and you want that to be as robust and reliable as possible.
Now that you know how to host your site, you might find these articles interesting
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